These three options were permissible until the 2009/10 hunting season. Before the 2009/10 season, the DFW eliminated the check station option for hunters to register their deer and subsequently required all deer to be registered via telephone or the Internet. Data collected include: type of deer (e.g. antlered buck, adult doe, button buck, etc…) weapon, date, county, deer management zone, land type (public or private), hunting license number, and type of tag used. Data are used to monitor harvest rates by location and season for each of the sex classes (antlered and antlerless). Trends of the percentage of bucks and does in the annual harvest serve as indices that are invaluable for determining overall population trends for the species (Figure 7). Telephone/Internet check-in has provided the same quality data as the previous check station system. However, unlike the past when much of the data from check stations had to be hand- entered into a computer, telephone/Internet data are already in digital format when the division receives it. Data are typically available to DFW on a monthly basis, which enables biologists to summarize harvest results in a more timely fashion in preparation for public dissemination and regulation updates. Biological Data Collection (Butcher Shop Surveys)– Historically, DFW personnel and volunteers annually examined and collected biological data from all of the deer that were brought into the state run check stations. However, as funding for such work decreased and budgets shrank these collections ceased up until 2007. At check stations, biologists would collect weights, antler measurements, monitor for diseases and age the deer brought in. Under the old data collection system staff would collect this information at its state run check stations. Now that DFW doesn’t run its own stations, DFW staff and volunteers visit private deer processors across the state to collect data. Since many hunters take their deer to a processor for butchering, these shops are ideal places for the division to examine deer. Typically, staff will visit these shops on peak hunter harvest days so that we are able to examine as many deer as possible in a short period of time. Recently these days have been the opening and closing weekends of the October Muzzleloader and November Shotgun seasons. Depending on how much or what type of 21
data is to be collected in a given year, the Division of Fish & Wildlife will examine between 700 and 1,300 deer annually. Along with mandatory deer check-in, collecting biological data each year is critical for monitoring Delaware’s deer population. Deer age, sex, weight, and antler measurement data are indicative of herd health and habitat quality. Collecting biological data statewide also is an important outreach effort and gives DFW the opportunity to meet one-on-one with its constituents.